Boston will try to make up ground in its race for a playoff spot this evening when it visits first-place Texas and Rangers Ballpark at Arlington for the first time this year in the first of three straight games.
The Red Sox looked like they would carry a four-game winning streak into this series, but instead starter John Lackey allowed a leadoff homer to the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista in the ninth inning of Thursday's finale of a three-game series, and closer Jonathan Papelbon went on to allow three more runs in a stunning 6-5 loss for his sixth blown save of the season.
Jed Lowrie and David Ortiz both homered in the loss, with Ortiz notching his 25th homer of the season. He became just the third player in Boston history to reach that mark in at least seven seasons, joining Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jim Rice.
"News to me," Ortiz told Boston's website of reaching the milestone. "Not bad, huh?"
Victor Martinez added two hits and an RBI for the Red Sox, who fell to 4-3 on a 10-game road trip. They trail the Yankees by six games for first place in the American League East and are four back of the wild card-leading Rays.
The Red Sox hope to rebound tonight behind Josh Beckett, who went 2-0 with a 2.18 earned run average over his first three starts off the disabled list before getting pounded by the Yankees last time out. The right-hander was charged with seven runs, 11 hits and two walks over just 4 2/3 innings, falling to 3-2 on the season with a 6.21 ERA.
Beckett, 30, faced Texas on April 21 and got a no-decision after yielding seven runs on seven hits and five walks over seven innings. He is 2-2 with a 4.82 ERA in six career starts versus the Rangers.
Texas looked as though it would give Boston a hand on Wednesday, but it blew a one-run lead to the Yankees and dropped a 7-6 decision. It marked the Rangers' third loss in four games, though they still lead the AL West by 7 1/2 games over the Angels.
Michael Young hit an early home run and both David Murphy and Mitch Moreland drove in two runs for the Rangers. Josh Hamilton added three hits, two runs scored and an RBI.
Cliff Lee lasted just 6 1/3 innings, snapping his string of at least eight innings pitched at 10 straight starts, and allowed four runs while striking out 11.
"I felt like I was running out of gas there," Lee said. "It was a hot day and they made me work quite a bit. I was still making pitches, but they weren't located as well as I would like."
The Rangers, who had their sale to a group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan approved by Major League Baseball on Thursday, send Tommy Hunter to the hill this evening.
Hunter posted eight straight winning decisions over his first 10 starts before taking a loss to the Angels on July 30, allowing eight runs over three innings. However, he bounced right back into the win column last Thursday, working around eight hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Seattle.
The 24-year-old righty is pitching to a 3.01 ERA this year and is 6-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven home games this year. Hunter beat Boston on July 15, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings, and is 2-1 with a 7.53 ERA versus them lifetime.
The Rangers have won four of seven over the Red Sox this year and were victorious in five of six meetings at home last season over Boston.